Why Did 51 American State Department Officials ‘Dissent’ Against Obama and Call for Bombing Syria?

By Vijay Prashad, professor of international studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He is the author of 18 books, including Arab Spring, Libyan Winter (AK Press, 2012), The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South (Verso, 2013) and the forthcoming The Death of a Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution (University of California Press, 2016). Originally published at Alternet

Close to half a million people are dead in Syria, as the country falls further and further into oblivion. Data on the suffering of the Syrians is bewildering, but most startling is that the Syrian life expectancy has declined by over 15 years since the civil war started. On the one side, ISIS holds territory, while on the other a fratricidal war pits the Assad government against a motley crew of rebels that run from small pockets of socialists to large swathes of Al Qaeda-backed extremists. No easy exit to this situation seems possible. Trust is in short supply. The peace process is weak. Brutality is the mood.

What should America do? In the eyes of 51 U.S. diplomats who still haven’t grasped the negative outcomes of the disastrous wars launched since 2002, the solution is to bomb the world into America’s image. In an internal dissent cable addressed to Barack Obama, seasoned diplomats have urged airstrikes on the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

Chas Freeman, former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War, told me he found the cable “unusual” in two respects. First, it garnered a large number of signatures. Most of those who signed the cable, a State Department official told me, were “rank and file” diplomats, such as a deputy to U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford and a secretary in the Near East Bureau. They had a good understanding of the current situation in the region. The second reason this cable is unusual, said Ambassador Freeman, is that the signatories “are arguing for rather than against the use of force.” Over the past 40 years, diplomats have used the “dissent channel” to caution against a rush to war. Now these diplomats are asking for an intensification of war.

Push Obama, Elevate Clinton

Why did the diplomats write their dissent now, and why was it leaked to the press? A former ambassador, with deep experience in the Middle East, told me it was an error to leak the cable.

“Someone decided to leak it,” he said, “for whatever irrational reason, an action as blatantly incorrect as it is most certainly politically and diplomatically counterproductive.”

Why is it counterproductive? The cable will not produce the outcome desired by the diplomats. But even so, it serves to bring U.S. politics into the domain of diplomatic procedures.

Do the diplomats expect that President Obama would read their cable and rush to a bombing raid, which he has resisted? No one assumes that Obama would hastily send in the jets to bomb Damascus. He has been cautious because he seems to recognize that the outcomes of such interventions could be worse than the reasons for them. It is now well established that in 2011 Obama was loathe to enter the Libyan conflict. It was the French who were most eager, and it was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who carried the French message to Obama. She and U.S Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power convinced Obama to endorse the NATO move into Libya. There is little indication that Obama wants to expand the chaos in Syria by bombing the Syrian Arab Army and the institutions of state in Damascus.

A former ambassador told me that many of the diplomats have great fealty to Hillary Clinton. Could they have leaked this cable to boost Clinton’s narrative that she wanted a more robust attack on Damascus as early as 2012? Is this a campaign advertisement for Clinton, and a preparation for her likely Middle East policy when she takes power in 2017? Clinton certainly advocated tougher military action in Syria. She joined CIA chief David Petraeus to push for a U.S.-backed rebel army in 2012, and she argued for air strikes when there was no appetite for this in the White House. Last year, Clinton called for the creation of a no-fly zone, a seemingly innocuous term that would have provided the pretext for Syria to hit either U.S. or Turkish aircraft and then escalate the conflict into full-scale war. If anyone carries the torch for these diplomats, it is Hillary Clinton. Her sensibility toward regime change seems shared by these people. War, for them, is not the breakdown of diplomacy; it is an instrument of diplomacy.


Ambassador Freeman says that the diplomats, in their cable, “embrace the use of force without linking it to any diplomatic strategy and accept the oft-disproven assumption that regime change will produce peace rather than additional political complexity or anarchy.” This is the most curious part of the cable, which does not have a detailed assessment of what would come after Assad.

Where are the Syrian liberals, the preferred instrument of American regime change? They are not in the picture. The Muslim Brotherhood and the Saudi-backed proxies dominate the Syrian opposition leadership in Istanbul. Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey back them to the hilt. They are not amenable to the niceties of American liberalism. The most ferocious rebel fighters in Syria are under the ambit of Al Qaeda and its many offshoots. The U.S.-backed rebels are weak, while the Kurdish-backed Syrian Democratic Forces has less commitment to the United States than to its own Kurdish ambitions. To believe that the small bands of fighters from towns like Kafranbel would be able to control the dynamic after U.S. jets strike Damascus is naive. The beneficiary of such strikes would most likely be the most bilious of the forces in the rebel camp.

What is most astounding about the cable is that it mistakes objective shifts in geopolitical relations for subjective errors. This is an elementary error for observers of international relations. The cable blames Obama for not striking Syria earlier and asks that he do so now. But Obama did not strike Syria in 2013 because he recognized, correctly, that the Russians, Chinese and most of the major countries of the Global South (including India) deeply opposed regime change. It was to finally stop any consideration of regime change that the Russians directly intervened in 2015. The deployment of Russian S-400 surface-to-air missiles would put any U.S. bombing raid into direct confrontation with the Russians. This is a very dangerous situation. Older habits of U.S. uni-polarity, developed from Gulf War 1 in 1990, no longer apply to an increasingly multi-polar world. It is not Obama’s timidity that led to the failure of aerial bombardment in Syria, as the diplomats contend, but it has been the rising confidence of certain world powers to confront U.S. preponderance. That this is not evident to the diplomats suggests they have a poor understanding of the world.

Ambassador Freeman suggests that the diplomats are making a “moral case,” which would mean that they are simply washing their own hands off of the disaster in Syria. They perhaps want to say, we are not responsible for the destruction of Syria, and if you had bombed Syria earlier, the situation would not be so dire. Since the diplomats “put forward no argument for why their approach would yield a particular outcome,” says Freeman, it is hard to take them seriously. There is nothing wrong with a cry from the heart, but it is dangerous to make policy based entirely on frustration and anger.

Dissent Channel

The most important internal criticism of U.S. policy came in 1971 from Dhaka, when the U.S. Consul General Archer Blood sent a telegram to Washington critical of U.S. backing of Pakistan over its massacres in (what was then) East Pakistan. “Our government has evidenced what many will consider moral bankruptcy,” he wrote on behalf of 19 other diplomats in what would later be called the Blood Telegram. It was an indictment of U.S. power. The Blood Telegram suggested that the U.S. backing for Pakistan gave it confidence to continue with its massacres in its eastern province. It called upon the U.S. to put pressure on Pakistan not to act in this way. Secretary of State Kissinger was furious. Blood was recalled to Washington and sidelined. It was more important to cultivate Pakistan as the doorway to China, which is indeed what happened in 1972. Those who died in East Bengal had to be sacrificed for a large goal—the U.S. rapprochement with China against the Soviet Union.

Blood understood that the U.S. government had leverage over Pakistan. The U.S. 7th Fleet sailed up the Bay of Bengal to put pressure on India, with Soviet backing, not to intervene. (I was a young boy in Calcutta at the time, putting up black paper on our windows, waiting for the U.S. ships to come within range.) India nonetheless intervened and helped to end the massacres. Blood had been correct, as he wistfully told me on the telephone from his home in Fort Collins, Colorado, a year or so before his death. It was in response to the Blood Telegram that the State Department created the “dissent channel” (not in response to the Vietnam War, as Mark Landler says in the New York Times).

The “dissent channel,” said the former ambassador who worked in the Middle East, should work as “an internal means of presenting ideas and opinions to the leadership.” But this action, with the move to publicity, will not help the aims of U.S. diplomacy. Nor will it help the Syrian people.


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  1. pmr9

    “Obama did not strike Syria in 2013 because he recognized, correctly, that the Russians, Chinese and most of the major countries of the Global South (including India) deeply opposed regime change”

    This version of events gives undeserved credit to Obama. Seymour Hersh has reported that Obama was forced to call off the attack on Syria on 30 August 2013 because General Dempsey informed him that the British defence lab at Porton Down had analysed environmental samples from the Ghouta chemical attack and had established that the sarin was “kitchen sarin” that could not have come from Syrian military stocks. Hersh reports that Dempsey effectively threatened Obama by warning him that he would testify to Congress (and would prime them to ask the question) on what he had told Obama. Hersh names Sir Peter Wall, then the head of the British army, as the officer who had briefed Dempsey on Porton Down’s findings.

    On 29 August 2013 the UK Joint Intelligence Committee had reported to the Prime Minister, in a summary that was made available before the House of Commons debate on war with Syria, that there was “no evidence for an opposition CW capability” and “no plausible alternative to a regime attack scenario”. It is clear from Hersh’s report (and other sources that corroborate it) that this was misleading, and that officials in UK Defence Intelligence were aware, as were the Russians, that the Ghouta attack was a false flag using sarin produced by the opposition. To mislead the House of Commons is “contempt of Parliament” a crime against the British constitution that the House has powers to investigate and punish. Unfortunately no MP and no journalist has been prepared to ask the relevant questions.

    1. tony

      Obama was not forced to do anything. He could have ignored the evidence and pursued an illegal war. Wouldn’t be the first time for the US.

    2. James Levy

      Excellent comment. Nevertheless, Obama deserves some credit, as the sad tale of General Shinseki and the invasion of Iraq shows. Obama had to listen to reason, and actually did. This is an incredibly low bar for praise, but given the idiocy shown by repeated US governments, it still shows a scintilla of sentience on Obama’s part.

      Would such a warning stop Clinton? Would it stop Trump if his ego was tied up in such a venture? I doubt it.

      1. pretzelattack

        it’s very plausible that clinton coordinated the leak, as the article suggests. save us, cthulhu.

        1. tegnost

          yes, see guccifer 2.0- ” get stories into the media without our fingerprints” geez they even talk like mobsters. Looks like a pro war, pro hillary propaganda piece to me…Libya is hillary’s baby, now sowing the seeds of chaos closer to russia. It’s bizarro world when “democrats” are the ones rattling the sabers, of course hillary is buddies with kissinger and I don’t think he’s reached the point where the errors of his ways are clear to him. Disrupt, destabilize, destroy…then generously offer the services of the “too big to fail’s” and the preferred oil company to rebuild the infrastructure. I laugh heartily when people say trump is worse than clinton. She and her advisors are batsh*t crazy.

          1. juliania

            I vividly recall how irate Obama was during that Rose Garden press conference when he backed down from bombing Syria. He was not pleased. Attempting to rewrite the historical record doesn’t wash for anyone with a memory of the Kerry statement about chemical weapons and the alacrity with which Lavrov responded. Obama was boxed in, and he didn’t like it one bit.

          2. jgordon

            Along with “Democrats” we should put “diplomats” in scare quotes here too. How completely stunning is it that “diplomats” are trying to egg on a war? Also, in addition to being incompetent (at diplomacy) and evil they are unbelievably ignorant. These sad individuals don’t even understand that America would have its ass handed to it in any sort of a direct confrontation with Russia. What the hell are these morons even thinking? Thank God that Obama is at least minimally in touch with reality, because these “diplomats” in the state department sure as hell aren’t.

            Really America should just disband State and the CIA and let the Department of Defense handle foreign policy and intelligence from now on. At least the people in the DOD have some sense, unlike the rest of the morons in charge of foreign policy. In fact if I were president that’s exactly I’d do: I’d force everyone in the State Department and CIA to sit at their desk and play solitaire all day and just have the DOD handle everything.

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              This. We have diplomats for one reason, and we have military people for another. War should ALWAYS be seen as a complete failure of policy, not just another instrument of it.
              Maybe we need Kucinich’s “Department of Peace” whose funding and KPIs depend on successfully promoting peace. Otherwise the War First people have no counterweight at all, especially since State no longer fills that role.

        2. sleepy

          If she had any involvement in this it certainly shows her contempt for Obama just a few days after he endorsed her and while the FBI investigation still plods on.

          Beyond that, I think the cable directly reflects the power of the Israeli lobby and the perceived benefits of a destroyed Syria.

          1. Fiver

            Concur. Were I Obama, I would be furious, and would instruct Kerry to immediately instigate a long overdue and very public purge of such idiotic, dangerous and duplicitous characters – all of them – as in anyone who by signing such a putrid declaration quite knowingly subordinated the interests of the United States to those of a foreign power, and of this Admin to the unlimited ambition of its presumptive successor, a candidate and ‘team’ who has gone further than anyone in both Parties casting herself as the ideal chosen instrument to, in her words, take the US-Israel relationship ‘to the next level’ – a thought so pregnant with prospects for unjustified mayhem it ought to terrify every sane person on the planet.

            1. Salamander

              Time out: signing is not leaking. The dissent channel appears to be the only accepted mode of internal communication where the rank and file can officially voice disagreement with senior leadership on matters of policy.

              You want to purge the individuals who used this channel? Because you disagree with them?

              I disagree with them too…but I’m not sure that will get you the results that you seek.

      2. Paul Tioxon

        pmr9 conveniently leaves out the entire point of Hersh’s article which has since its April 2014 publication reportedly been corroborated.

        “This is quite the bombshell delivered by two CHP deputies in the Turkish parliament and reported by Today’s Zaman, one of the top dailies in Turkey.

        It supports Seymour Hersh’s reporting that the notorious sarin gas attack at Ghouta was a false flag orchestrated by Turkish intelligence in order to cross President Obama’s chemical weapons “red line” and draw the United States into the Syria war to topple Assad.

        If so, President Obama deserves credit for “holding the line” against the attack despite the grumbling and incitement of the Syria hawks at home and abroad.”


        Obama publicly drew a Red Line that the Syrian government should not cross in its prosecution of war against its insurgent rebels. Chemical warfare. Hersh clearly reports the uncovering of a false flag operation that leads back to Turkish government organization in the use of Sarin nerve gas, solely to trick Obama into letting loose a devastating bombing campaign against the Syrian Asad regime. Once Obama received the intel, he requested Congressional hearings for a vote of approving such an act of war against yet another nation, Syria. Of course, this would be a direct message to Russia that the US government would not be deterred by any consequences from Russia in taking this aerial warfare to a public vote and then acting on it without fear of whatever Russia may or may not do.

        However, Obama was not prepared to go war, Congress was not prepared to approve any bombings in Syria, and Turkey would remain the sole supply line for military actions by various notoriously bad actors, the not-so-moderate Syrian rebel forces. As opposed to the good, moderates, holed up in hotels in Paris, London etc.

        Obama gets all of the credit for not bombing because he has all of the power to bomb or not bomb. Conflating the sourcing of good, reliable intel, with the power to make war is a common error. Competing Hawk or Dove positions or whatever nuanced shades in a spectrum from extreme to another, all want the president, any president to follow their advice. It is usually a confusing trading pit of ideas and positions out of which the president finally makes a decision for good or ill. In this case, Turkey was trying to instigate the entry of the US into a direct military conflict against the Syrian government as a last chance attempt to shore up their client rebels. By murdering a town full of people with Sarin gas and blaming Asad, Turkey brought the animus of Obama down on their heads more than anything else upon notification by the solid British intel.

        original Hersh article here:


        What do we as American citizens make out of 51 diplomats proposing war? The world is a god damn mess, and this best advice from the people who are in direct contact with news and intel from that part of the world leaves the rest of us without their exalted position from the commanding heights of the US government questioning if they have lost their god damn minds, along with all of the other crack pots that are running loose and gathering a following. Without reasoning, without a plan that they are proposing to make the situation better than it is now, and it is a horror show of refugee misery and human suffering, I don’t know if these people even have their heads screwed on right at all, if they know their assholes from a hole in the ground or they are in fact a secret cult of Baal Worshipers finally revealed to the public.

        1. Lambert Strether

          > What do we as American citizens make out of 51 diplomats proposing war?

          We make out that the national security apparatus taken as a system — and singling out the rare exceptions, who help the country by whistleblowing, leaking, and throwing bureaucratic obstacles in the way of the bad craziness — is corrupt to the bone. Also too insane. And that both characteristics are rewarded, and that individuals who display them tend to rise to the top.

          Kudos to President Obama, which I very rarely say, for not being deked by these guys.

          1. John Merryman

            That the State Dept should be populated by neocons seems a logical consequence of the political leadership assigned to it.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              No, all Federal agencies are populated by career bureaucrats below the political appointee level. The conversion of the Defense and security apparatus into a neocon operation is a generation-long operation.

              1. ChrisFromGeorgia

                Which brings up an interesting question – how deep down does the rot go in the State Department?

                Assuming we ever got a President who had the will to change direction away from war mongering and bombing the bejeezus out of brown folk, could he/she even have a chance at changing the culture without getting rid of career bureaucrats? How would a “purge” of neo-cons possibly happen without firing some GS-level employees? Or are these 51 diplomats political appointees who could be fired immediately on day 1 of a Trump/Sanders administration?

              2. Watt4Bob

                I recall reading that the entire government bureaucracy was restructured under the Homeland Security Act, the largest such re-organization since the New Deal.

                There was also substantial talk about how this process was destructive of the Civil Service, and a mass insertion of republican loyalists, sometimes described as dead-enders.

                In retrospect, I can see that ‘republican loyalists’ was the wrong label, and that we need a new one.

                Maybe The Invisible Junta?

          2. craazyman

            we make a bow in the general direction of Carl Jung

            “Dude, you nailed it.”

            You really can’t blame him for all the Santa Fe channelers. Any more than you can blame Nietzsche for the 20th century.

            I”ve been reading up a bit on this Nuk-you-ler War with Russia riff. I don’t know about this one. The neocons are crazy lunatics, I don’t disagree — in the Jungian sense of the insanity of an arrested development of full consciousness. Yet I have this belief there’s an inherent limit to how crazy this can get. I get the feeling it’s a business dispute more than a tribal-nation-state dispute — and those are two radically different phenomenon in terms of their energetic structures — and I suspect “behind the scenes operators” are in more control than it seems. That may be reflexive optimism or head in the sand delusion, I admit.

            But I just don’t channel a nuke-you-ler wore. This is a complex topic and I’m too lazy to write an essay. But I don’t see the unconscious pre-requisites. If there was a real threat of a land invasion of Russia, then I’d see nuke-you-ler wore as a probability. But there is no real prospect of a land invasion of Russia. I’d say that;s about as close to zero odds as you can get. Who the hell is going to invade Russia like the German army or Napoleon? Europe can’t even deal with itself. It’s ludicrous to even think of it. They coudln’t manage it even if they wanted to.

            Otherwise. its mostly mind games and money games. I hope I’m right because, not just for the world’s sake and all the innocent good people in Russia and Europe and the U.S., but also because I’m way too lazy to survive a nuke attack. No way would I survive. Even Youtube may go dark. That would be bad.

            1. Harry

              It’s true that there is no osprey of land invasion. But Russia is an empire, and there is definite scope to destabilize the empire. And to rip off the assets of the Russian nomenclature. Believe me, try that shit against the us and you will be fighting a hot war in minutes.

        2. John Merryman

          Wasn’t Baal an Assyrian deity?

          One which drew a bad rap for being opposed to our own preferred God of the Israelites.

          In which case, not likely one to promote bombing Syria.

        3. pmr9

          The story of the arrest in May 2013 of the Nusra Front sarin procurement team in Turkey, and the prosecutors’ report completed in July 2013, was no longer a “bombshell” when reported by Hersh and raised by Turkish opposition MPs. A careful reading of Hersh’s articles shows that this report was available to US Defence Intelligence agencies by summer 2013. Two other lines of evidence were available to US and UK intelligence agencies by summer 2013 that pointed to sarin production by the opposition.

          1. a report to the UNSG from Mokhtar Lamani, the UN Special Representative in Damascus, that the Nusra Front was bringing nerve agent through the border from Turkey.

          2. analyses by Porton Down and its Russian counterpart of environmental samples from two incidents in March 2013, showing that the agent was “kitchen sarin”.

          This has been discussed in some detail on Pat Lang’s blog. By summer 2013 it was clear to US and UK defence intelligence staff that a false flag operation using sarin was being planned, and that their civilian counterparts were at least tacitly colluding with this. The analysis of samples from Ghouta and the use of the results to threaten Obama appears to have been a last-minute effort to block the use of this to start a war

      3. hemeantwell

        I can’t recall the link, but recent reports that Obama is critical of at least some aspects of neoconnery suggests that if Sanders were to make more of an effort on the foreign policy front he might find some support in some sections of the administration. I realize he’s not very well defined in his opposition to aggression, but now’s the time.

        The people at the SSTyrannis site are deft at generating somewhat plausible scenarios leading to a nuclear exchange with the Russians. I worry that it’s not just armchair Armageddonery they’re engaging in. I get the sense that for many people the visceral takeway from the Cold War is that it can’t happen. That’s denial of the worst sort, and I think it’s shared by the Clinton crowd.

        1. local to oakland

          Why limit the risk to nuclear exchange? After 60 plus years of being adversaries, during the cold war, who knows what ancient contingency plans could be activated?

        2. craazyboy

          Be very, very afraid.

          The Cold War didn’t turn into nuclear war because of MAD – mutually assured destruction.

          We’ve been working on anti-ICBM missiles for a while now. The problem being that ICBMs reach Mach 15 to Mach 20 speeds on the way down and are nearly impossible to hit. Then they break into multiple warheads too.

          They are much easier to hit on the way up, struggling against gravity and the warhead in one piece. But you have to be close enough to the launch point.

          Putting anti-ICBM missiles in Eastern Europe could make the alternate scenario to MAD, winning a nuclear first strike, a reality. Russia regards that as unacceptable.

          Then there is the issue of nuclear winter. We might wipe ourselves out even if Russia never gets a shot off. Wish NASA and the climatologists would plug that into their new fancy climate models and give us an updated opinion on that.

          1. just me

            (Reality speaking), nobody wins a nuclear first strike (except maybe cockroaches), though I wouldn’t be surprised if Hillary and her cloud think they can, salivate for it, craaave it…

            I have to say I don’t know the answer to this one—at any of the debates, were candidates of either party asked, “Do you think you can win a nuclear war?”

            1. craazyboy

              “I wouldn’t be surprised if Hillary and her cloud think they can”

              “Win a first strike” is a “real” military concept going back at least as far as Reagan days. There have been treaties with the Soviets, and Russians, over banning development of military counter measures, including anti- ICBM missiles which would in effect make MAD obsolete.

              You can do a google search and find plenty on it, I’m sure. So it is “real”, in their minds.

            2. craazyboy

              I have a longer response in moderation. But I forgot to address your debate question. I didn’t hear anyone ask or answer that question. Weird?!

            3. polecat

              She and her ilk think they can survive a nuclear exchange, ….while scuttled away in some Dr. Srangelove cubby hole. …..to emerge victorious, ..flowers to be thrown at their feet……..!

              Play with fire..you get burned….badly!

            4. JTMcPhee

              Deeper bunkers, plus longevity improvements from Tech. What’s to fear if you are an Inner Circle-ite?

          2. ChrisFromGeorgia

            Russia has nuclear armed subs. They quite often get close to the US coast.

            Hillary and her merry band of neo-cons whack-jobs might want to think that one through.

            1. craazyboy

              That’s why Russia is in a tizzy to keep seaports – like Crimea and the other one north of Poland. And “we” like to bottle them up. Nuke subs can stay out at sea a long time, but you need food and water eventually.

              But one scary thought is if we discover McDs and KFC franchises popping up on the manmade Chinese islands in the South China Sea. The world is getting more complicated.

              ‘Course then subs would only have the capability to launch a few hundreds of warheads and Russia would need to be more selective in their targeting. Go for the heads of Hydra.

      4. MikeNY

        but given the idiocy shown by repeated US governments, it still shows a scintilla of sentience on Obama’s part


        “We had to destroy the village in order to save it”. I marvel that there is anything still standing in Syraqistan; from the pictures I see, it looks like a gravel quarry. And now blowback has metastasized into domestic mass-shootings, sufficient to stain the Mississippi red; we wring our national hands in a Hamlet-like production of anguish and earnestness, and then change precisely NOTHING about how we conduct our affairs. We are insane.

        1. steelhead23

          Please Mike, not we. It is they who lead the nation who are insane. You and I are just along for the ride. Buckle up.

          1. MikeNY

            Buckle up and buck up. I know you’re right: there are many sane people who see what’s going on. Orlando really got me. First nausea, now rage alternating with despair. Gotta find a productive use for it.

          2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Disagree. WE are the ones who are insane because we tolerate this madness. If WE disagreed we would put down the TV clicker and grab a placard, or make a phone call, or send an email. WE don’t.

        2. polecat

          Nn…’We’ are NOT insane…The poor excuse for politicians ‘WE’ elect to represent us are the ‘insane ones!

      5. Take the Fork

        @James Levy

        Speaking of credit, yesterday in the IQ thread you extended some to Solzhenitsyn, but then in the same breath revoked it:

        “Alas, although Solzhenitsyn did the world a great service with the Gulag Archipelago, he became over time a classic Russian right-wing nutter and anti-Semite.”

        There are two claims here:
        1. That Solzhenitsyn became a “right-wing nutter”
        2. That Solzenitsyn became an anti-semite.

        Do you have any evidence for either one of these claims?

        1. JTMcPhee

          A thoughtful piece on Solzheniktsyn: https://www.commentarymagazine.com/articles/the-terrible-question-of-aleksandr-solzhenitsyn/

          Search on Solzhenitsyn Israel and you get a pretty massive dose of ugly. Seems to me most likely the “antisemitism” noise is related to S’s relating of the participation of educated Russian Jews in the baddest parts of the “Revolution.” But of course other people use S’s fame and notoriety as springboards for their own “issues…”

          But human is as human does, day in and day out… Just got to follow NC to see what all that entails.

          1. anon

            Solzhenitsyn was deeply damaged psychologically and emotionally by his experiences in the Gulag. He was a man betrayed, most of whose betrayers were nameless, faceless, ever in the shadows. Perhaps after all this time we should forgive him for the symptoms of serious mental illness that finally overtook him — since that illness was so brutally inflicted on him against his will.

            Donald Trump did not fight the Nazis. He never witnessed first hand the atrocities committed against civilians by his own troops, was never imprisoned, starved, required to do forced labor and exiled for criticizing Stalin. Trump has never known real fear, come close to death multiple times.

            Solzhenitsyn, I think, has an excuse, however weak and unsatisfying we all may find it. His antisemitism was irrational and totally unjustified, as were many of his other prejudices. He also earned a bit of slack for risking his life to expose, in detail, the dark underbelly of the Soviet system through a body of work more responsible for the collapse of that system than the mutterings of a half wit B movie actor who inhabited the White House during the 1980’s.

            The same cannot be said of many who welcomed him into this country who helped fuel those prejudices and used his work to advance their own, corrupt and dangerous, agendas. It certainly cannot be said of Trump, who has led a pampered, privileged existence that has led to his own deeply disturbing narcissism.

            1. Take the Fork

              So now Solzhenitsyn was mentally ill, too?

              I’m still waiting for evidence of his rightwing nuttery and antisemitism.

              1. JTMcPhee

                A lot of that so very sophisticated and persistent hasbara is “anon…”

                One wonders at the amount of effort and intelligence and subtlety poured into the efforts. But then the thought processes that appear to energize it have so many hooks into identity, and games, and money too…

                1. Take the Fork

                  I read that article despite the fact it was at Commentary and written by Podhoretz. And I’ll say It was fair, despite containing the suggestion that Solzhenitsyn was not a “true novelist” and the canard that there were somehow two Tolstoys (one a supreme artist, the other a cranky pamphleteer). It could’ve been worse. My guess is that if it had been written twenty years later (in 2005) it would have been worse.

                  But this: “He was a man betrayed, most of whose betrayers were nameless, faceless, ever in the shadows.” Funny how this sort of rhetoric is never applied to the Nazis. The Soviets actually kept very good identity records (one reason they were so much more efficient at mass deportations than the Nazis ever were). I bring this up only to wonder aloud why no one has ever been “brought to justice” for the crimes of the far more murderous Marxist regimes in the 20th Century…

                  But The real tell here is that pseudoscience (psychology) is brought in to rescue the narrative. If not evil incarnate, the opposition MUST suffer from mental illness… [which, to be fair, just might be the case with Tommy “Death to traitors, freedom for Britain” Mair].

                  If you are interested, there is a good if very subtle presentation about the Solzhenitsyn question here:

                  1. John Zelnicker

                    @Take the Fork – “I bring this up only to wonder aloud why no one has ever been “brought to justice” for the crimes of the far more murderous Marxist regimes in the 20th Century… “

                    The Nazis were brought to justice because they had been thoroughly defeated in WW2 and their government effectively destroyed. Thus, the Allied powers were in complete control of the country and its administration. The murderous Stalin and Mao were never defeated in war so no other nation(s) could control their countries and bring their leaders to justice.

                    I have always found it one of the great ironies of the 20th century that Stalin’s Soviet Union was one of those prosecuting the Nazis at Nuremberg, given the way he ran his country.

                  2. Fiver

                    What Stalin and Mao inflicted on their respective nations will prove an historical gnat compared to what the global powerful are about to inflict on planetary populations if they continue with their supreme idiocy. We were already an extinction event for scores of large mammalian and other species we once preyed upon, but that’s nothing compared to what we in the West with our insane growth imperative have set irrevocably in motion and, as with the calamitous circumstances that always attend Big History and big actors in that history, good choices assume good options that long since left the stage.

                    And in case you think this is a sermon for the grandkids, I’m in my early 60’s and no longer optimistic I’m going to miss it.

                    1. uncle tungsten

                      We lost the climate change chance at reversal when the Kyoto protocol was agreed. It was entirely inadequate in December 1997 and never recovered any sense of urgency from that date.

                      Clinton and Gore were hell bent on saving US corporations from the ‘Green lunacy’ of the day and they sacrificed the world to achieve that end.

                      It is now way too late to reverse the CO2 atmospheric pulse and the next decades will be an extraordinary challenge for all the mammals let alone the other lifeforms.

            2. tegnost

              Nor did hillary fight the nazi’s, she has, however, viewed the atrocities for which she is largely responsible on tv and seemed quite pleased (wondering where the trump thing came from, I thought the discussion was about A.S.?). Nice of me to mention each of them once, gives a sense of balance or something. And your final sentence, you could put either name and corresponding gender identity there, both statements would be true. Googed robert kagan/Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and found this article that was interesting it’s from 2014 so it’s funny how events then rhyme with events currently. Never heard of the publication before but found it interesting, bonus points for featuring debate footage between richard dawkins and john lennox
              I’d be interested in your views on this

    3. jawbone

      Friday’s PBS NewHour demonstrated in a segment with Judy Woodruff and Margaret Warner that the program is remarkably good at “catapulting the propaganda”, in this case that Assad’s government used chemical weapons to kill a thousand of his own people. Factually, most of the dead were supporters of the government, which, if Assad ordered such an attack, would have made it even more evil. And only by knowing the actual facts about the chemicals involved does it belie the initial US assertions that Assar was responsible.

      In due time, it was made known to those who read and retain information that, indeed, it was not an attack by the Syrian government, that the chemical signatures indicated “kitchen sarin,” as pmr9’s quote about Gen. Dempsey and results from the British defense lab at Porton Down showed.

      But in the world of those who wish to keep their jobs as good lap dogs to the Beltway conventional wisdom and not so accurate facts, Margaret Warner made a special point of saying that Obama had backed down on enforcing his promise to go after Assad if Syria used chemical weapons.

      After a video quote from Obama, Warner immediately repeated the now discounted charge.

      PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: A red line for us is, we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus.

      MARGARET WARNER: But after a regime chemical attack killed more than 1,000 Syrians in August 2013, the president didn’t launch military strikes, nor step up arming the Syrian rebels. ….

      She’s not the only public broadcast reporter to say exactly the same thing. It’s now become one of those zombie lies: Nothing can keep them down.


      The segment isn’t very long, and the sad and worried expression on Warner’s face at the end, where she talks about how sincere the signers of the letter are, is well worth looking at. And wondering about how they do it — how do they keep repeating lies?

      Probably because no one calls them on it, no one who matters. And everyone they talk to repeats the same untruths.


      1. notabanker

        Comments on the site blasted them. Weather they pay attention or not is anyone’s guess, but the feedback is there.

      2. fresno dan

        Thanks for correction of the record.
        Zombie lies – really, the number of them is overwhelming

  2. tony

    Victoria Nuland and Robert Kagan have a great mom-and-pop business going. From the State Department, she generates wars and from op-ed pages he demands Congress buy more weapons. There’s a pay-off, too, as grateful military contractors kick in money to think tanks where other Kagans work, writes Robert Parry.

    A Family Business of Perpetual War

    If you’ll allow a bit of speculation, I would argue that this push for war was created because it creates opportunities to loot the US treasury.

    It is of course backed by the ideology of US supremacy and invincibility which allows these people push for war against Russia.

    1. Lambert Strether

      I’m reminded of another couple where one spouse does the front-running and the other uses to public power to deliver the (private) good. But the name… The name.. just won’t come to mind [ha ha].

      I wonder if this is a prevalent pattern of behavior in the Beltway? Seems Flexian.

  3. PlutoniumKun

    Its an interesting article, but (not I assume the authors fault) doesn’t actually answer the question. I’d always assumed that the diplomatic corps was significantly more pragmatic and anti-military intervention than other arms of the US foreign policy establishment, but this would seem evidence otherwise. Its is pretty horrifying that professional diplomats could sign something so simpleminded, even within the context of neocon policy. It doesn’t say much for the quality of people involved. Perhaps its not just the military that has been degraded by a decade and a half of the war on terror, it may well be degrading the quality of people attracted to, and recruited by, all elements of the government establishment.

    The other explanation – and its not all that encouraging – is that this is simply an attempt by a certain level of diplomats to say ‘hey, its not our fault’. But I would have thought they would have picked a different target for their complaints than Obama if that was the case. It does seem more likely that this is a deliberate attempt by the Samantha Power/Hilary wing of the establishment to stake a claim to the high ground.

    1. Procopius

      A lot of what I’ve seen over the last few years only makes sense if I believe the State Department is the last bastion of PNAC (Project for a New American Century). There is no acknowledged strategy in Syria, no end game, no way to tell when/if we’ve won, except regime change. The CIA and the Pentagon seem to be backing different factions who are hostile to each other and both seem to be providing weapons to ISIS (perhaps, but not certainly, unintentionally). Victoria Nuland could not have instigated the neo-nazi coup in Ukraine without her superiors’ knowledge and approval. I still wonder who told L. Paul Bremer that disbanding the Iraqi Army before disarming its soldiers was a good idea. When asked about it Bush acted as if he never actually heard about it.

    2. art guerrilla

      “A former ambassador told me that many of the diplomats have great fealty to Hillary Clinton. Could they have leaked this cable to boost Clinton’s narrative that she wanted a more robust attack on Damascus as early as 2012? Is this a campaign advertisement for Clinton, and a preparation for her likely Middle East policy when she takes power in 2017?”

      um, there is your answer right there, plutonium, all the rest is inside-inside baseball bullshit…

      besides essentially using their gummint positions in an unusual calculated political manner, i am sure all these knob-polishers are simply jockeying for positions in Empress Cliton the First’s reign of Empire…
      pass the soma, please…

      1. DJG

        Yes: And the use of the world fealty astounds me. Fealty, as in feudal relations? As in clientelism? These people shouldn’t be allowed near foreign policy at all. Fealty indeed.

        1. JTMcPhee

          But they dedicate themselves and bend all their efforts toward getting themselves into these positions where they get to use the wealth and credulity of ordinary people to “advance,” and I use that word quite advisedly given where it’s taking all of us, their interests and friends and agendas…

          Not man of the rest of us, who might be interested in survival and sustainability and comity and all that, have the skills, schooling, connections and inclination to take part in the fokking Great Game, in all its parts and parameters…

          1. JTMcPhee

            New generic legal concept (I guess): One can declare “fealty” to McDonald’s, another large destructive franchise, and do all kinds of stuff that ordinary people not inured to the horrors of our common humanity would feel, well, horrified about, and have it credited to McDonald’s? How about someone declaring medieval fealty to the US Empire and killing off a bunch of NATO peacekeepers, or school children (what do school children LEARN, in places dominated by autocrats, anyway?) ? Same legal effect and principle?

      2. Palaios

        Precisely; it’s never too early to take one’s place in the sycophant queue. The President’s next move should be to encourage Mr. Comey and Mrs. Lynch to do their job ‘festina lente’, with an emphasis on ‘festina’.

    3. craazyboy

      There’s a simple solution, however. Congress can cut the State Dept. budget to zero.

      There’s an old saying, “If you stop paying them, they stop showing up for work.”

  4. wellclosed

    It is a pathetic sign of our times that the narrative of the “Fabulous 51” has any traction at all, when such perspective is so demonstrably flawed. Pat Lang (and too few others) has been chronicling this neocon “Borg” delusion for quite some time – not unlike efforts here with respect to orthodox neo-econs, libertards, etc. It was pretty easy to assume, as the Kennedy administration must have, the outcome of belligerent threats against the evil Ruskies when they were way beyond their capacities in Cuba. But to threaten a modern, very militarily capable state with Neocon Wargasm Regime Change – – is truly insane. They really do have WMDs – like the ones only we have ever used.

    1. tegnost

      Hey, cmon, we’ve get the f-35, think of the boost to gdp when the russkis shoot down one or ten of those overweight video game platforms! We need some more heros like pat tillman (not dissing tillman, but the people who tried to use his good name for their own bitter ends), you know, to garner support for our noble casus belli.

  5. twonine

    Per Ray McGovern (RT interview this AM), the 51 are bucking for a promotion with the prospective new boss.

    1. pretzelattack

      and just to make it super explicit, you get a promotion by advocating a war on russia’s client state, in perhaps the most volatile region on the planet. this makes me quite nervous. at least we have victoria nuland helping to keep peace in the ukraine.

    2. grizziz

      Interesting War Nerd podcast#36 featuring American Conservative writer Kelley Vlahos. The basic claim is that the US security state which includes the State Dept., the MIC and the various think tanks and Universities surrounding Washington DC has produced dynastic clans which suck money from the defense budgets to fund lavish lifestyles. These 51 players are merely cheer leading for more war because there is simply not enough money in peace to keep the generational Ponzi going in luxury.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Once upon a time, even some editor at the WaPo let a little corner of the seraglio tent get lifted:


        And of course you have a recent general officer who out-grabbed himself, selling very top secret Navy info on for money, prostitutes etc. to a guy nicknamed “Fat Leonard.” Was allowed to plead to the lesser offense of lying to investigators. Bullshit, Just fokking bullshit. http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/06/10/us-navy-admiral-pleads-guilty-to-lying-to-investigators-in-fat-leonard-bribery-case.html

        An enlisted guy in my unit in Vietnam got drunk, convinced himself he could fly an Army Sioux helicopter. Started it, got it up out of the revetment, then when setting back down caught the left skid on the 4 foot high revetment wall and crashed it. He was court-martialed, jailed at Long Binh, busted to permanent E-1, denied even a discharge, and may still be paying off the $125,000 the Army said that broke-down chopper was worth on that E-1 pay. How many tiers of “justice” in “the system?”

  6. Sam Adams

    Seems Cheny and Rumsfeld were successful stocking the State Dept shelves with career neocon bureaucrats.

  7. John

    Regardless of the motivations first of the message itself and secondly of its purpose, my first thought was that the Clinton camp directly or indirectly was behind it. But it is such a ham fisted ploy; you would have to be a political idiot, wouldn’t you? Then I recalled the other boneheaded moves and dismissed it.

  8. ArkansasAngie

    I’ve finally put my finger on why I will not vote for HRC.

    HRC is the embodiment of the notion that “ends justify the means”.

    You cannot believe this and believe in the law … ethics … morality … at the same time.

    HRC is no Gandhi.

    False flags
    Circumventing laws

    Slippery slope? HRC has her skis on and her goggles down.

    That is change I do not believe in.

    1. kimsarah

      A look at HRC’s reported campaign contributions (who knows how much more is unreported) would show a lot of neoliberalcons have skin in this game and are itching for some returns as soon as possible.

  9. ex-PFC Chuck

    See also Pat Lang’s post on this yesterday. As is the case with Naked Capitalism, the comment threads there are worth thorough reads as well as the posts. The consensus there seems to be that it demonstrates the success of the neo-con infiltration of the State Department, the signers’ utter lack of experience in understanding of the military and warfare, and finally the results of the demise of DoS’s area expertise in the Middle East.

    1. afisher

      I agree. I would add that Victoria Nuland has been in DC with week being grilled (/s) by Congress.

    2. JTMcPhee

      “Are you, or have you ever been, a member of the People for a New American Century or any other neoconservative group? I remind you that you are under oath to testify truthfully to Congress…”

  10. Carolinian

    Cutting to the chase.

    A former ambassador told me that many of the diplomats have great fealty to Hillary Clinton.

    Hugo Chavez joked that you would never have a coup in Washington because it has no US embassy. But it does have the State Department itself and it now appears they are using their partners in the press to help shape the coming regime change in our own country. How long before Vicky appears out on the Mall, giving out cookies?

  11. Ignim Brites

    Maybe the notion is that bombing the Assad military would provoke a military confrontation with Russia in Syria but more importantly in Eastern Europe. This will bolster the case for NATO which will face increased scrutiny in the upcoming POTUS campaign.

  12. Mark John

    The leak is ridiculous and ham-handed, but that is nothing new.

    I hope we will all keep in mind what starts these wars and keeps them alive, as well as global warming and wealth inequality. THE PROFIT MOTIVE.

    1. redleg

      Corporate. The military would have some kind of plan for afterward. HRC and the Clintonian daleks see the election itself as the end game.

      1. polecat

        Read the MaddAdam series by Margaret Atwood.

        In it she makes constant reference to the ‘CorpSeCorps’………the security arm of the corporations that run society in the not so distant future……..They have outlawed weapons among the pleb, completely rigged election…in their complete favor….and they are not above ANY graft or corruption to achieve their aims, which is control of everyone and everything!

        I’d say we’re 3/4 of the way there…..

  13. NYPaul

    Questions, questions.

    Seems to me like C.I.C. Clinton just can’t wait another 6 months to start blowing the world up. I, too, believe Hillary is behind this gang of 51’s insubordinate pronouncement. It’s got her signature, intemperance and incompetence, written all over it. And, where’s the current S.O.S. Cat, Kerry, while the Foggy Bottom mice are stirring this very dangerous Vladimir cauldron? So, maybe Obama kinda wishes he waited a little longer with his demented endorsement, “I don’t think there’s ever been someone so qualified to hold this office.”.

  14. oho

    yesterday morning, the NYT headlined its site w/this story. then anti-war/anti-neocon comments and upvotes flooded.

    by lunch this story was buried well below the fold.

    Automated analytics downgrading an unread story? Or an editorial decision by someone “surprised” that even the NYT bobbleheads don’t buy the Neo-Con lies?

  15. nothing but the truth

    these guys are sending a “hire me” signal to goldman sachs and other (((tribe))) operations.

  16. Chauncey Gardiner

    Since they disagree with this president’s policies, the honorable course of action by these 51 State Department employees would be to resign. Absent that, I believe the president can require their resignations.

    1. steelhead23

      Bingo. It strikes me as analogous to holding a seance at church for seasoned diplomats to lobby for war. The stumbling block is that the document itself followed existing protocol for dissent. Its release to the public is the fire-able offense. I wonder if Obama is investigating.

      1. kimsarah

        Renew the war on whistleblowers. Journalists are the next targets. Kill the messenger rather than address the problem.

  17. Denis Drew

    So Al Qaeda takes over Syria; so what? Al Qaeda would not kill half a million Syrians! !!! Once Al Qaeda takes over a country it is on its way to becoming a large bureaucratic entity — more inherently conservative. What are they going to do, declare war on the US; throw their government behind crashing airliners? The specter of a million US boots on the ground would squash that. We do have a reputation for that sort of thing going back to Korea.

    My view of the world is the Rick Steves, Anthony Bourdain view — not their ideology (if any) but the Marshall McLuhan/medium-is-the-message view. It’s just land and people — people like us.

    If Obama cared about the Iraqi people he would have/could have gotten our reverse Saddam, Maliki, under control and coerced him in the direction of greater inclusion of the Sunni into a new coalition — instead of terrorizing them and forcing them into the open arms of ISIS. Ditto for arming and training the vast majority of innocents. We could have identified most people (the vast majority) that’s not hard, and worked with them.

    We could have tried to do both. But, as usual, Obama doesn’t care.

    1. craazyboy

      One real problem is they set up terrorist training camps, similar to the Taliban in Afgan. These are then organized terrorists they send out elsewhere in the world, even the USofA, if they can sneak past the TSA in airports.

      However, Saddam never did that and neither did Assad. So our State Dept’s strategy seems to be give terrorists a training ground so they can export a trained and organized terrorist network around the world. And this is after we’ve had at least 15 years to observe how it works. Note that the reason we felt we had to go into into Afgan originally was that the Taliban was running terrorist training camps.

      Not to mention arming these “moderate Arabs” to overthrow Assad.

      1. jawbone

        Another real problem is how Al Q tend to terrorize the captive populations, especially the females.

  18. JimTan

    There have been rumblings over the years that many of the coalitions in the current Syria conflict are the result of countries competing for a Natural Gas pipeline between the Middle East and Europe:


    I genuinely hope that our current state of foreign relations is not filled with actors following a ‘Realist’ school of thought:


    Ultimately who knows, but this might be one motivation behind 51 diplomats calling for the bombing of Syria.

    1. kimsarah

      Those reports never got any traction, though the battle for natural gas control seems to be one very logical explanation for the geopolitical gamesmanship going on over there.

  19. Carolinian

    Robert Parry–with sources inside the State Dept.–offers up some insight on this story

    But the descent of the U.S. State Department into little more than well-dressed, well-spoken but thuggish enforcers of U.S. hegemony began with the Reagan administration. President Ronald Reagan and his team possessed a pathological hatred of Central American social movements seeking freedom from oppressive oligarchies and their brutal security forces.[…]

    As the old-guard professionals left, a new breed of aggressive neoconservatives was brought in, the likes of Paul Wolfowitz, Robert McFarlane, Robert Kagan and Abrams. After eight years of Reagan and four years of George H.W. Bush, the State Department was reshaped into a home for neocons[…]

    As the 1990s wore on, the decimation of foreign policy experts in the mold of White and Derian left few on the Democratic side who had the courage or skills to challenge the deeply entrenched neocons. Many Clinton-era Democrats accommodated to the neocon dominance by reinventing themselves as “liberal interventionists,” sharing the neocons’ love for military force but justifying the killing on “humanitarian” grounds.[…]

    when Obama entered the White House, he faced a difficult challenge. The State Department needed a thorough purging of the neocons and the liberal hawks, but there were few Democratic foreign policy experts who hadn’t sold out to the neocons. An entire generation of Democratic policy-makers had been raised in the world of neocon-dominated conferences, meetings, op-eds and think tanks, where tough talk made you sound good while talk of traditional diplomacy made you sound soft.

    More here–all good.


    Personally I’d say “blame it on Reagan” is a good all purpose explanation for current ills. This response also takes in the Dems since they so often knuckled under to the Gipper.

  20. Gaylord

    The MIC must be pushing for more gravy to buoy the fake economy. This Empire based on greed, exploitation and chaos will take the whole of life down with itself.

  21. oh

    I wonder if this memo is really meant to the legacy of the current administration by showing how it resisted the efforts of the hawks?

    1. Massinissa

      Usually ‘legacy’ is stuff people in the mainstream will like. This isn’t something mainstream America is going to care much about ever.

  22. Sluggeaux

    All this foreign policy discussion is a bit over my head, but couldn’t the leaked “dissent” have come from the White House?

    Isn’t it most likely that Obama’s concern for his “legacy” is going to make him want to out HRC and her grossly incompetent sycophants and cronies at State as the Bomb-Baby-Bomb crowd who goaded him to the brink of war with Russia over Syria based on faulty false-flag intelligence?

    1. kimsarah

      With Barry, it’s possible but then so is hope and change.
      What’s likely is he wants Hillary as his protector after he leaves office.

  23. just me

    Was there ever a resolution to the story about Russia going to release Hillary’s e-mails? T/F? Wondering if this story is feedback to that one, a conversation in the press? Signals and threats? Related?

    1. aab

      I’m not the best person to explain this, but apparently Wikileaks has released a torrented “insurance policy” file of material that’s unredacted. Needs another cyberkey to unlock, which will get released if the government interferes with its pending “announcement” — which is presumably Clinton files. So if the government messes with them the files get released anyway, but with even more damaging stuff in them. If the government leaves them alone, they release a slightly redacted and edited version.

      The insurance policy file is supposedly so huge it can’t be just emails — the speculation is that it might include videos, although there could be junk files mixed in. I have never paid attention to Wikileaks process before, but as a tyro, it makes no sense to me to stuff a torrent file full of unnecessary junk data when it’s already heavily encrypted. OTOH, given that the NSA told her when she started as SoS that the Chinese could turn her Blackberry into listening device, and I believe it’s confirmed you can turn on a camera pretty easily without the user knowing, and she used crap computer security and carried that Blackberry with her everywhere — it seems plausible to me, non-techie person, that there’s audio and video off that Blackberry — maybe stills rather than vids, but film is just a series of stills anyway, so…

      And now that I have typed that out, I need a bath.

  24. Obereit

    Don’t want to steal CrazyMan’s mojo, but get crazy for a minute and entertain the idea that a long-term strategic plan is being followed by the most effective military power in the middle east – Israel. Destabilize surrounding countries, divide and conquer by creating small balkanized statelets easily manipulated and controlled. Perhaps the vison from the “Yinon Plan” (1982) for a greater Israel brought about by the dissolution of surrounding Arab States is such a strategic plan:

    “Lebanon’s total dissolution into five provinces serves as a precedent for the entire Arab world including Egypt, Syria, Iraq and the Arabian peninsula and is already following that track. The dissolution of Syria and Iraq later on into ethnically or religiously unique areas such as in Lebanon, is Israel’s primary target on the Eastern front in the long run, while the dissolution of the military power of those states serves as the primary short term target. Syria will fall apart, in accordance with its ethnic and religious structure, into several states such as in present day Lebanon, so that there will be a Shi’ite Alawi state along its coast, a Sunni state in the Aleppo area, another Sunni state in Damascus hostile to its northern neighbor, and the Druzes who will set up a state, maybe even in our Golan, and certainly in the Hauran and in northern Jordan. This state of affairs will be the guarantee for peace and security in the area in the long run, and that aim is already within our reach today.14

    Iraq, rich in oil on the one hand and internally torn on the other, is guaranteed as a candidate for Israel’s targets. Its dissolution is even more important for us than that of Syria. Iraq is stronger than Syria. In the short run it is Iraqi power which constitutes the greatest threat to Israel. An Iraqi-Iranian war will tear Iraq apart and cause its downfall at home even before it is able to organize a struggle on a wide front against us. Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking up Iraq into denominations as in Syria and in Lebanon. In Iraq, a division into provinces along ethnic/religious lines as in Syria during Ottoman times is possible. So, three (or more) states will exist around the three major cities: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul, and Shi’ite areas in the south will separate from the Sunni and Kurdish north. It is possible that the present Iranian-Iraqi confrontation will deepen this polarization.15 [http://users.physics.harvard.edu/~wilson/HUMANRIGHTS/PALESTINE/A%20Strategy%20for%20Israel%20in%20the%20Nineteen%20Eighties,%20by%20Oded%20Yinon,%20translated%20by%20Israel%20Shahak.htm]

    Or from the past year an echo of agreement from the former Defense Minister in his articulation of what Haaretz called “the Ya’alon Doctrine”:
    “Our problem certainly doesn’t begin in ’67, [but] from the dawn of Zionism,” he [Ya’alon] said. “Our conflict isn’t going to be solved by a territorial compromise, because all our territorial retreats – whether in Oslo or the disengagement – ended in bloodshed. So we have a long struggle, which I call our war of independence, and it isn’t going to be solved in the next few years.” [http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.681271]

    Perhaps someone like Victor Ostrovsky (former Mossad) is telling the truth of this strategic vision in his books. And maybe this explains why Israel hospitals are treating al Qaeda fighters. [http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Report-Israel-treating-al-Qaida-fighters-wounded-in-Syria-civil-war-393862]

    Maybe Likud, Netanyahu, Lieberman etc. see no two-state solution, want no two-state solution, and can only see an Israel in the 21st century that is firmly in control of even more territory than it has now. Yes, placate the UN, but still build as many new settlements as possible and do nothing on the peace front. Then all of this is a part of the above-mentioned long “war of independence” whose prize is eventual peace through regional dominance. Lastly, suppose there is a vital interest on their part to stoke visceral hatred against Muslims by USA, so that the USA will blindly engage in the region devoid of any coherent strategic vision that would represent USA’s national interest? Then perhaps Clinton and the 51 are simply caught up in the tide of a narrative which, written in part by others, they believe is of their own making?

    One person’s conspiracy theory is another’s well-executed strategic plan. We have RICO laws for a reason. The Powell Memo appears to have been effective. The Project for the New American Century appears to match up to some significant realities that have emerged. A leader of that project, Robert Kagan, endorsed Hillary, and is the husband of Victoria Nuland, oft mentioned as possible SOS under Hillary, whose administration some fear will exercise the most ‘muscular’ foreign policy seen since Reagan. This Memo of the 51 would then be the first battle cry of the next imperial campaign in the ME.

    Crazy, I know.

    1. fresno dan

      Certainly seems plausible.
      And divide and conquer….where else am I seeing that???

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        I don’t think “strategy” really comes into it any more, I think it’s just money. The “peace dividend” from the total collapse of the imputed enemy in 1991 was just too much of a threat to the gigantic mountain of cheese.

  25. myshkin

    The neo-con takeover of foreign policy since the Eighties as mentioned explains a lot about how State Department officials conclude bombing is a helpful diplomatic tool, “War, for them, is not the breakdown of diplomacy; it is an instrument of diplomacy.” Part of that calculation is enabled by characters like S Power, (who along with Clinton) concluded that the French had the best interests of Libya in mind in their quest to direct NATO bombs at Qadaffi.

    Powers book A Problem From Hell established her as a critic of US policy, her premise was that a missing but necessary moral construct should be in place for facilitating intervention in conflicts arising in sovereign foreign entities. One of her targets in that book was B Clinton for his refusal to acknowledge the ongoing Rwandan genocide.

    How to make sense of Power’s proffered principle that, “we no longer live in an era in which foreign policymakers can claim to serve their nations’ interests, treating what happens to people in other countries as an afterthought… What happens to people in other countries matters. It matters to the welfare of our own nations and our own citizens,” when it resides alongside the foreign policy establishment’s principle that condemns, “the rise of extremist and isolationist voices in the U.S. who dare challenge ‘the internationalist assumptions that have undergirded U.S. foreign policy across party lines since the Second World War?” -Power

    These are not contradictory attitudes except in that US foreign policy before and after WWII has always been “undergirded” by the unilateral US internationalist assumption that US interests, effectively meaning business interests, trump, “what happens to people in other countries…” as well as, “…the welfare of our own nations and our own citizens.” US policy in Central America has been catastrophic for Central Americans and led to refugee problems as the victims flee battle zones and killing fields and of course the blowback from our bloody meddling in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    It takes a subtle mind to reconcile the welfare of nations with a history that includes the various police actions, overt and covert, undermining democracy in the 19th, 20th and now 21st centuries, from Greece, Iran, Indonesia to our hemisphere, Mexico, Nicaragua, Honduras, Chile and the rest of the Americas for United Fruit, AT&T, Anaconda and Kennecott mining, Haliburton and others. Such a transformation in belief might happen in barely perceived increments as perhaps it did with Power, to maintain the moral high ground.

    Fortunately the Clintons have each other to perform such mental acrobatics and Power, Cass Sunstein as they build their rationalizations for blowing up corners of the world for peace. The Clinton’s have their excellent foundation and Power a Kissinger Prize. Sunstein is skilled at posing ethical questions about observers pushing others in front of trains to save the children further down the bend. The discussions around the dinner table must be riveting.

  26. SomeCallMeTim

    Hard to imagine this happening without Trump serving as the far greater of two evils.

    1. Massinissa

      Are you serious? If Hillary were still SoS she would be advocating this too. If anything I would say Trump would have a lesser chance of initiating new hostilities against Assad, but I would not bet any money on that either

  27. VietnamVet

    It makes sense that the State Department is still staffed with Hillary Clinton’s lackeys after her four-year reign there. NBC News used the release to report that Assad killed 400,000 Syrians but they did not indicate that it is insanely myopic. The Islamic State has no air force. A Syrian no fly zone, if not agreed to by Russia, would immediately start a shooting war between NATO and the Russian Federation that inevitably will escalate to a nuclear holocaust,

    This is another example of the policies put forth by the 5% technocrats who are running things for our ruling warlords and oligarchs. When the foundation ideologies of both neo-liberals and neo-conservatives are domination and plunder; we can expect nothing else from their acolytes or from Hillary Clinton. Brexit and the French Labor Protests are push backs to the chaos that the ruling elite are seeding throughout the World.

  28. Peter Pan

    Which occurred first? The news release about this internal dissent cable or the Russian Air Force bombing of the so-called USA backed “moderate rebels” located near At Tanf, Syria.

    Regardless, I suspect that Russia just sent the USA a very serious message about Syria.

  29. RBHoughton

    “the oft-disproven assumption that regime change will produce peace” – absolutely right. We have beheaded the tall poppies of the Taliban, Saddam and his friends and Gaddafi and his friends.

    I heard Iran has offerd to provide a homeland to the Kurds. That will leave Hillary and Erdogan to divvy up the land between them.

    Result is political and social chaos in all three countries whilst the six majors in Iraq are pumping oil and Libya has our shipping to take-off some of its supply. Commercially it going rather well and our mercenary armies are returning strong profits.

    Not sure about Yemen, but it looks to me that we are in this to make a dollar. I am beginning to suspect that the underlying cause of all the hurting and killing we are doing in the world today is the failed condition of the US domestic economy with only war supplies booming.

  30. TL;DR?

    State is infested with CIA moles. Dulles called them focal points. Fletcher Prouty ratted them out but the infestation only got worse. They’re not loyal to Hillary, they’re loyal to CIA.

    Hillary concurs because she’s CIA nomenklatura (Cord Meyer recruited Bill and put him to work importing drugs through Mena Airport and as a first-degree relative Hillary’s part and parcel of the family cadre.)

  31. Russell

    It is for such as Syria is that the UN needs a Mission driven Armed Forces of its own. If the US is going to be the Government of Governments and fix the Syrian War, then it is about the Big Dog stops the little bad fighting dogs. Or Bear stops Dog fight, maybe that is a better analogy.
    I have a good deal of respect for the International community of Foreign Service Professionals. They have often in US History made pragmatic recommendations to our government. They correctly predicted that Zionism supported by the US would forever make the going rough for the US. Hard to think that FDR was still alive as the UN was being built. He had three weeks to live when told such and apparently said the UN would be dealing with it all.
    The Creation of the UN was at the time a very big deal in our world. Watch the Battle of Algiers to get a sense of what I understand about the times. I am also depending on IF Stone accounts.
    For Europe, my God what a difficult set of circumstances. Greece has been admirable from what I have read & seen. Notice I qualify my sources and pivots of information from which to make any judgements.
    Peace is my goal. For the Law of Unintended Consequences I held back politically till these days.
    Only the goals matter now that time is so short with the prospects of real Catastrophes. Things have been fun while they lasted. When I say “Civilization”, I can say I have truly enjoyed the best of it from time to time, more than many coming out of my class and circumstances.
    To end the war in Syria is a worthy goal as it concerns great swaths of territory. It will take the force of the Big Dog to tamp down.
    So much is roiled by that war and all the barbarity of the region, I think that real barbarity in decapitations with short knives as violations of the Declaration of Human Rights & the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1976 that Great International Force of Gendarmes in the end after Tanks and infantry wipe out those organizations killing civilians and committing war crimes.
    That force of Tanks that the Sauds had bearing towards Lebanon, and into Syria and there was something some talk of the dialed down battlefield use of thermonuclear weapons if Russia decided there were too many tanks for them & their ally Assad. I believe John Kerry did a job stopping that prospect. Some analyst at IHS is needed to critique my take I’ll bet.
    Clearly Foreign Service Professionals have ours and our allies best interests to guide them.
    They may not be good war generals who understand what you actually do have to do to take and hold any enemy territory.
    The Festering sore of it all has gone way gone way past what you would sanely think acceptable to the European Community. The French Diplomat Andre` Lewin is whom and what I am thinking of as one I wish was with us to ask of guidance.
    The French warned us of many things that we did again after they had tried. They have strong reasons to consider what actions they would see as worth material contribution.
    The one thing I do have to say is that Tanks Take Territory. Winning a war simply takes the movement of Tanks which are covered from the airspace. Who owns the airspace is about who can roll their tanks and what will mean no nukes get experimented with in the meantime.

  32. Winston

    According to Parry, State Department dominated by Neocons.

    The State Department’s Collective Madness

    However, I wonder if this is connected to visit of jihadi to DC?
    Syrian Al-Qaida Faction Ahrar Al Sham Goes To Washington
    The report suggested that the Ahrar al Sham “moderate” terrorist leader (who appears to have the profile of a US “intelligence asset”) would be meeting with “third parties” in Washington DC ”who might influence policymakers” –e.g. D.C. think tanks, research institutes, media, US intelligence, etc. as well as ”lobbyists and Middle East researchers”.

    Why is Post allowing this?
    Labib Al Nahhas is head of foreign political relations for Ahrar al-Sham.:
    The deadly consequences of mislabeling Syria’s revolutionaries


    “How Many Villages Do They Have To Massacre Before They Become Bad Guys?

  33. ian

    I’m sorry, but I really don’t get this.
    At this point, it hardly matters if Assad is deposed or not – there isn’t a hell of a lot of Syria left.
    The same question exists now, as before – “if Assad were magically gone tomorrow, then what?”
    And how does this benefit Hillary? Trump is going to come right back with “why is this our fight?” at which point she is going to have to explain it. The refugee crisis? Humanitarian concerns? Sorry, but that ship has sailed. This might have been a good argument to have had a couple of years ago, but now?
    Of course, I freely admit that I might be missing something.

    1. pretzelattack

      it benefits hillary in seeking republican votes–she is the more responsible warmonger, vote for clinton over trump! may benefit the clinton foundation.

  34. cassandra

    Back at the end of August 2013, I watched real-time TV reports of the gas attack, at a summer vacation with family. I saw Shields saying that Assad had now gone too far, gassing his own people! I waited futilely to hear the details that pointed to Assad, especially since it happened an hour or so after UN inspectors landed to investigate the prior gas attack in May. I was relieved when war was averted, and felt my scepticism later justified by Hersh’s article and Postol’s MIT study.

    Remarkably, nearly everyone I now talk to, family and friends, including the people who watched those first news clips with me, is glad Assad had to give up his chemical weapons; nearly everyone hopes that this will prevent Assad from repeating such an atrocity in the future; few have even heard of Hersh’s story, or have an interest.

    I have to wonder wonder how many of these 51 diplomats are equally dis-informed.

  35. Fiver

    What was the date they released this Notice of Intention of Coup vs the date of the massacre in Orlando? I was wondering why the number 51 had an odd quality to it – like it was a Senate majority, or an electoral percentage – and I then it hit me. I thought ’50’ just wouldn’t do, because if you Google ’50’ you go to the Orlando story, so it had to be 51, even if it weighed ’50’. Each of those 50 crack experts on Syria and the region told us Obama is responsible for events in Orlando because he should’ve just forged ahead and won the war in 2013 – and the subtext is for every one of those fallen in Orlando there is a Clinton man or woman, a war-friendly man or woman, a hard power man or woman, a profoundly ignorant or unthinking man or woman who is more than happy to cast his/her lot for violence at the earliest possible date.

    As noted above, Obama should have heads, after all the garbage information he was fed by these very people to have them now blame him is just too much – it makes me wonder just how far Clinton can go before Obama just pulls the pin on her and says ‘F— it. That is it. Let’s see how good she looks in an indictment.’

  36. uncle tungsten

    I read it as a Clinton ploy to send the cable anticipating that Obama would not respond immediately thus giving her some ammunition for use in her up coming campaign. Shows how little she cares for Obama or even acknowledges his intelligence.

    She didn’t believe or even fully consider that Obama might leak it immediately. She has a serious track record of ham fisted and even stupid tactics going back decades. She is certain she can get away with anything!

    I agree with Fiver, she is too high risk and too high maintenance to get near the presidency. She has amply demonstrated her reckless ineptitude and p!ss poor judgement in recent years and now this jerk idea from State just tops it off.

    Kerry should not hesitate to clean house and Obama should be certain the indictment proceeds.

  37. Anon hasbaracist

    This 51 story appears to be part of a pre-planned spin operation on the people leading to ………? More to follow, to build up a narrative. But nobody seems to have told the devils there is a God who is aware of every new hair that sprouts up around each and every one of their dirty assholes.

  38. RBHoughton

    Its a problem for any American administration. Since GWB told the world ‘you are either with us or against us,’ America has had a tribe of dictatorial governments bowing towards Washington whilst effecting genocide against their own populations. I am thinking of Erdogan and the Kurds.

    The basic tragedy is the effect these ‘do it or I’ll hit you’ diplomats have had on the attempt to create a world government. To sign up every country it is only necessary to embrace justice, fairness and a degree of mercy.

  39. equote

    Governments have but two ways of settling international disputes,—either by negotiation or war,—and, even the latter must be concluded by diplomacy, for nations rarely fight until one of them is completely annihilated. Brantz Mayer

    ‘American diplomacy’ failed to forge peace in the middle east after it’s military ‘victories’ in the Middle East. The American ‘way of war’ (at least post George Marshall) doesn’t seem to solve any problems.

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